Weronika Kałwak 
works at the Institute of Psychology (Jagiellonian University) in Kraków.

On 22/03, she participated in the breakoutsession on climate change. The subject of her presentation  was What we know, what we don't know, and what we assume about the impact of climate change on mental health and well-being in Europe

  • ​You can download the slides below.

There is a widespread scientific consensus on anthropogenic global climatic changes, as well as their disruptive influence over ecosystems and communities around the world. The climate crisis indicates a threat to environment, society, economy, geopolitics, and human health. An increasing negative psychological impact of climate crisis has been identified in academic literature and in global health policy documents as the next challenge for public mental health, thus expectedly a challenge for mental health practice[1]. While the challenges has been identified in the global context, it is important to understand climate crisis-related impact on mental health and wellbeing specific to individuals and communities of Europe. Up to now, knowledge of climate crisis consequences for mental health mainly comes from locations already deeply afflicted by climatic changes and related extreme weather events (e.g., from Australia that has been conducting systematic studies on mental health consequences of droughts and wildfires for several decades). Most European regions – situated in the temperate climate zone - remain comparatively less degraded by environmental damage resulting from climatic changes (so far), where every-day consequences of climate crisis for most of the people are not yet a lived reality. These regional differences may count for variety and specificity of mental health impacts and should be understood in order to provide adequate mental health support to individuals and communities of concern [2]. Climate emotions, dynamics of engagement in individual and collective climate action, and environmental concern (grounded in individuals’ cognitive and ethical attitudes, as well as in sociodemographic characteristics) are believed to underlie the climate crisis-related risk for mental health and well-being in the European context. This risk may be characterised as anticipatory and mediated in personal values and education [3]. However, virtually no research has been done on direct and indirect mental health consequences of climate crisis in the European regions with respect to the unmediated impacts of natural disasters and extreme weather events. I will present results of a literature review on the state of knowledge concerning specific impact of climate change on mental health and well-being in Europe.
[1] Bourque, F., Cunsolo Willox, A., Climate change: the next challenge for public mental health?, International Review of Psychiatry, 26(4), 415–422 (2014).
[2] Ogunbode, C.A., Pallesen, S., Böhm, G., Negative emotions about climate change are related to insomnia symptoms and mental health: Cross-sectional evidence from 25 countries, Current Psych., 1– 10 (2021).
[3] González-Hidalgo, M., Zografos, C., Emotions, power, and environmental conflict: Expanding the ‘emotional turn’ in political ecology, Progress in Human Geography, 44(2), 235–255 (2020).

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